Curran: Goodell and NFL keep hiding behind The Shield


Curran: Goodell and NFL keep hiding behind The Shield

The NFL shield has taken on a whole new meaning.

The logo that Commissioner Roger Goodell made it his mission to protect when he took office a decade ago? It’s just something for the league’s owners and operatives to hide behind so no person or group of people ever has to face the music.

Behind The Shield, the men and women who talk publicly about doing the right thing and hiring the best and brightest cut shady deals, settle scores, scratch backs, twist arms and try to maximize every revenue trickle in pursuit of Roger Goodell’s promised $25 billion annual revenue goal.

Under Goodell the league and its owners have conducted themselves so poorly that we’re left to cynically scrutinize every bout of the NFL seeming to do the right thing with the question: “What’s their angle?” eye.

And almost without fail, the league lives down to our expectations.  

So, protect The Shield? You bet your ass. That’s fortification for the walled city that is 345 Park Avenue. It protects actual humans from facing the music and explaining how mind-numbing outcomes like the one we’re witnessing in the Josh Brown case came to pass.

Who decided to trim Brown’s suspension for domestic violence from the baseline of six games down to one?

The “NFL” – that nameless, faceless, three-letter monolith is usually the entity cited. When it gets personal, it becomes “Goodell” and for $30M a year, he’ll take the slings and arrows as the face of the league knowing that – cowering behind him – are 31 owners who pay him precisely for that reason.

Instead of understanding that real, genuine transparency is the best way to rebuild public trust, the league sits mum or dissembles.

We get some mealy-mouth Goodell explanation uttered to the BBC while the NFL is priming the pump for expansion in Europe that insinuates we’re boobs who can’t understand the rigorous process the NFL goes through in humiliating itself.

And we get what passes for a mea culpa from Giants owner John Mara about the team thinking it was doing the right thing but being misguided in that belief.

No specifics. No rationale. Just a shrug and a “We bleeped up…” with no outward signals at all of introspection.

And that’s it.

So, we never hear from the NFL’s senior advisor in charge of overseeing investigations, Lisa Friel. She was hired precisely to ensure there wasn’t a repeat of the Ray Rice case in which the NFL was unable (or unwilling) to uncover evidence that later surfaced and caused the league immeasurable embarrassment. We never hear from B. Todd Jones, who was reportedly put in charge of making “initial disciplinary ruling for off-field misconduct” in 2015.

We never hear from Kia Wright Roberts, reportedly installed a year ago as the NFL’s Director of Investigations.

We never hear from T&M Protection Resources, the Park Avenue security firm to which the NFL apparently farmed out the Brown investigation or the investigators there who kept calling and emailing the Kings County Sheriff’s Office regarding Brown but – hell – couldn’t get an answer.

We never get an explanation as to why Friel, Jones, Roberts, Mara or Goodell himself couldn’t hop a plane to Seattle to sit down across a desk from Sheriff John Urquhart and get guidance the Sheriff said he would have given.

“I would have said exactly the same thing, ‘We cannot release the case file.’ But since this is a hot-button item in the NFL, since it’s the NFL, we probably would have told them orally a little bit more about what we had.” Urquhart said last week after the NFL tried to scapegoat his office for not giving the NFL information. “But we don’t have them calling us here. We’ve got some goofus from Woodinville named Rob Agnew asking for the case file. We have no idea who he is.”

Who does? If the buck was really stopping with all the people the league hired to tighten up investigations and off-field conduct, wouldn’t one of them be running point not Rob Agnew?  Certainly, it would have been worth the time, effort and headache in hindsight, wouldn’t it?

One person has put up her hand and tried to give a little illumination as to the process. Natalie Ravitz, a Senior VP of Communications, who took to Twitter last week and defended the NFL’s investigative efforts. Briefly. And nothing since.

I wrote in August that the NFL needed to be transparent in explaining why they cut Brown’s suspension from six games to one.

What mitigating circumstances were there?

They didn’t explain then and that leads to cynical, presume-the-worst reactions like mine. They were hiding.

As in the Rice case when Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti lobbied on Rice’s behalf, Goodell and his operatives allowed one of their bosses – Mara – to hold sway. They all deferred and where are they now?

I imagine Friel, Jones and Wright are sick to their stomachs over how this played out. I have to believe these people – who built outstanding careers in law enforcement before the NFL glommed onto them and put them in their web – are humiliated this happened on their watch.

I’m sure they’ve got an explanation that may not make everything right but would at least be enlightening enough to somehow restore a little trust that there are capable people involved in the process that messed up.

Goodell and his operatives shouldn’t be explaining to the league’s owners behind closed doors and in hushed tones how this went wrong. They should be at a long table in front of microphones explaining to a public that’s lost faith in it what they’ll do to get it back.

Yet still they hide behind The Shield.

What are the Patriots getting in Cordarrelle Patterson?

What are the Patriots getting in Cordarrelle Patterson?

The Patriots have made a trade with the Raiders to acquire receiver and special teamer Cordarrelle Patterson, according to a source. The deal, first reported by Pardon My Take, is an interesting one because it lands Patterson with the team that passed on the opportunity to draft him back in 2013. 


Bill Belichick dealt the No. 29 overall pick to the Vikings that year in exchange for four selections, including a second-rounder and a third-rounder. The second-rounder became Jamie Collins, and the third became Logan Ryan. The Patriots also took Josh Boyce with a fourth they received in the trade, and the fourth pick (a seventh) was traded to Tampa Bay in exchange for LeGarrette Blount. The Vikings took Patterson. 

Patterson's career to this point has been a mixed bag. One of the top athletes in the 2013 draft, the Tennessee product never quite panned out as a go-to No. 1 receiver. He has not missed a game in five seasons, but he has never cracked 600 offensive snaps in a single season. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder has turned himself into more of a gadget receiver as well as one of the game's best special teamers. 

Here's what the Patriots are getting in Patterson . . . 

TOP-TIER SPECIAL TEAMER: Patterson has solidified himself as one of the NFL's best kick-returners. In five seasons, he's ranked as the top returner in terms of average yards per return three times. He's never been outside of the top 10 in the league in that category. Last year he was sixth in the NFL with a 28.3 yards per return average. Patterson has also become a highly-effective gunner on punt units, a role he thrived in once he embraced it, and he has kick coverage experience. Patterson has not been a punt-returner. He has just one punt return under his belt compared to 153 kick returns. Patterson has been named a First-Team All-Pro twice for his work in the kicking game. 

INCONSISTENT RECEIVER: Patterson has never been able to take his explosiveness and translate that into consistent production offensively. He's not thought of as a precise route-runner, and he has a reputation as a "body-catcher." Yet, because he's so dynamic with the ball in his hands, offenses in Oakland and Minnesota have found ways to get the ball in his hands. He'll align in the backfield, take reverses and catch screens just to try to get him the ball in space where he can let his natural abilities take over. If he gets a crease, he can create a chunk play in a blink. 

THE COST: Patterson is in the second year of a two-year deal he signed with the Raiders last offseason. He has a base salary of $3 million and a cap hit of $3.25 million. The Patriots will be sending a fifth-rounder to the Raiders and getting a sixth-rounder back. (As an aside . . . The Patriots have used one fifth-round pick in the last six drafts. It was spent on long-snapper Joe Cardona. Why are they constantly dealing fifths away? Inside the Pylon's Dave Archibald did an interesting piece on that topic about a year and a half ago. The gist is that a) there's a significant drop-off in your chances of finding a star in the fifth compared to the fourth, and b) the talent in the fifth round, by some metrics, hasn't proven to be all that different from the sixth or seventh rounds.) 

THE FIT: Patterson is a relatively low-risk acquisition because of his cap hit (which on the Patriots slots him in between Shea McClellin and Chris Hogan) and because of the draft capital required to nab him. Trading for a player like Patterson as opposed to signing another team's free agent has the added benefit of not impacting the compensatory-pick formula. Patterson also fills a few needs. His abilities as a kick-returner will be more than suitable with last year's primary kick returner for the Patriots, Dion Lewis, out of the mix. What Patterson can do as a gunner and in kick coverage will also be useful with Johnson Bademosi now elsewhere. There's also a chance Matthew Slater plays in a different city in 2017, in which case Patterson's contributions as a gunner and in kick coverage could be critical. With Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman and Hogan all established in the Patriots offense, Patterson won't be expected to take on a heavy role in the Patriots offense. However, if he can pick up a new system, perhaps he could take on a role as a No. 4 or 5 wideout who benefits from plays designed to get him touches in space. Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett and Kenny Britt -- now alongside Patterson -- will all be competing for time in New England's offense. Former Patriots coaching assistant Mike Lombardi seems to believe it's unlikely Patterson contributes offensively


Patriots acquire WR Cordarrelle Patterson in trade with Raiders

Patriots acquire WR Cordarrelle Patterson in trade with Raiders

The Patriots have acquired wide receiver and kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson in a trade with the Raiders, NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry confirms.

Pardon My Take, a podcast by Barstool Sports, first reported the news.

Ian Rapaport of NFL Network reports the Patriots sent a fifth-round pick to Oakland and received a Raiders' sixth-rounder along with Patterson.

More to come...